Explore 9,448 acres across five forest units, offering several outdoor recreational opportunities. State forest trails and amenities are often less developed and provide a more rugged outdoor experience. Please take this into account and plan accordingly.
- Lick Creek Unit is the largest at 2,866 acres and is located 3 miles east of Farmington on Hwy 2. It features two equestrian campgrounds, equestrian trails and facilities, hiking trails and more.
- The Farmington Unit is 2,207 acres and located just outside the town of Farmington. Forest headquarters can be found in this unit, which also offers camping, miles of hiking trails, picnic facilities, two fishing lakes and more.
- The Donnellson Unit is 1,330 acres and located 4 miles east of Farmington on Hwy 2, on the north side of the road. It has a campground, 2 fishing lakes, picnic areas, a nature trail and hiking trails.
- The Croton Unit is 2,087 acres and located 3 miles southeast of Croton.
- Keosauqua Unit is 958 acres and located 2 miles southwest of Keosauqua and just north of Lake Sugema and has more than 7 miles of hiking trails.
in four main campgrounds in Shimek, offering fire rings, water hydrants and pit toilets. Be careful with fire in the forest -- only light fires in designated fire rings. Advance campsite reservations can be made online through the park reservation system
. One quarter of the campsites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. For questions regarding camping at the four Shimek campgrounds, please contact the park technician at (319) 931-7805:
- The Lower and Upper Campgrounds in the Lick Creek Unit are designed for equestrian use, with open-air stalls for overnight stabling. Additional equestrian facilities include hitching posts, gravel parking pads, a water hydrant, day-use area and shade for horses.
- The Bitternut Lake Campground in the Farmington Unit has eight campsites. The lake is an easy walking distance to enjoy fishing, also offering a hard surface boat ramp to launch a boat or kayak.
- The White Oak Campground in the Donnellson Unit has 11 sites. Donnellson also has one hike-in campsite, located about .5 of a mile from the boat ramp parking lot of Shagbark Lake, and .6 mile from the access road south of the lake.
ride horses and mountain bike on nearly 60 miles of trails, which wind through the rugged hills and deep woodland areas of the forest. An old railroad track bed traverses the middle of the forest and provides ample, flat space for hiking use. Find trail maps for each of the units on this page. Horses are only allowed on designated trails, roads and in the campground. Mountain bikes can use designated equestrian trails.
at four small lakes in the forest. The 6-acre Black Oak Lake
in the Farmington Unit has bluegill, channel catfish, bass and redear sunfish. Amenities include, an accessible picnic area, fishing dock and restrooms. The 6-acre Bitternut Lake
in the Farmington Unit features a hard surface boat ramp and primitive campground. For a more rugged experience, try walk-in fishing at the 7-acre White Oak Lake
, also in the Farmington Unit. Shagbark Lake
, in the Donnelson Unit, is 6 acres and features a hard-surface boat ramp and a picnic area. Please note, there are no designated swimming areas in the forest.
throughout the forest for numerous game species, including white-tailed deer, turkey and small game. The entire forest is open to hunting except for areas within 200 yards of residences, campgrounds, and the headquarters area.
- Motor vehicles must stay on public roads. ATVs are not permitted anywhere in the forests, trails, or roads. Snowmobiles are allowed only on designated routes. Confine vehicles to the main roads. Drive carefully.
- State regulations require horses, mules and donkeys being transported interstate (from one state to another) must have a current Certification of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate) and a negative Coggin's test (EIA). This paperwork must accompany the animal into the State of Iowa. Please refer to the Iowa Horse Admission Regulations for more information. This law applies to equestrian camping, day-use and trail riding in any State owned Park or Forest.
more about the Shimek forest history and ecology (keep current accordions)